What does lots of tough hills, plus lots of heat and humidity, plus trails, plus a swinging bridge, plus 26.2 miles, plus 2 IV bags equal? Well, in my case it equals 3 hours 6 minutes and 48 seconds of running. So how do you like "that" for a topic sentence? One of my English teachers once told us that every paper needs a topic sentence as a way to let the reader know a little about what he is about read. Thus you have my best shot at leading you into what I am about recount to you from my weekend adventure.
Friday night, I pulled into the Belfry High School to pick up my race packet and have a little pasta for dinner. Part of the registration for the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon included a shirt, prerace dinner, 26.2 miles, and a post race lunch. Not bad considering the entry fee was only $50 dollars. In my opinion is pretty good deal for a Marathon these days.
While we were waiting on dinner to start, I was spent my time chatting with some of the other runners. I wanted to get a little insight from of the veteran runners of this race. And, just before dinner Bobby walks up. He was probably more surprised to see me than I him since I knew that he was planning to run this race. Yes, there were a few people that knew I was planning on running this marathon but only a few.
The dinner was followed with a nice little skit put on by a couple of local actors about the Hatfield and McCoy's Feud. Being from WV, I learned about the feud in school, but still they shared some stuff that I didn't know.
Btw – dinner was pretty good as well – Pasta – veggie or meat sauce, salad, and cake plus your choice of refreshments.
The dinner was lasting well into the evening and I soon had to say my goodbyes because I still needed to find my hotel for the night.
Paid $69 dollars for a room that I only spent 5 hours. I guess this was a good deal for them.
Because the race starts and finishes in two different locations, I headed back into Williamson early the next morning to catch the buses to the Food Mart which host the start.
The place opens early and serves a full breakfast buffet.
I hung out there until about 6:40 when I headed out to drop my bag. I was getting in a little warm up when I spotted Bobby coming toward the start.
We had been told that the race was started with the firing of a shot gun.
Dave Hatfield, the race directory, yelled "what time is it?". Someone else yelled "7AM", and then there a blast from a shot gun and people started running. No instructions, no pray, no anything. Heck I was even standing at the starting line. Bobby and I were still standing back in the crowd talking. People just started running so we followed them.
Things started spreading out quickly. A few guys take off and I am running just ahead of Bobby. This one guy blows by us and soon catches up to the leaders. I made my way up to them, and hung out for a while.
Once we started hitting the hills, they were still pushing the pace a lot harder than I was planning. I backed off and let them go. At the top of the hill my quads were burning pretty bad which I knew was a bad sign when you are only 7 and ½ miles into a marathon. The downhill wasn't much help either because it was so steep. I was jamming my toes into the front of my shoes.
Finally, the road flattened out or at least compared to the first 7 miles it flattened out. Around 12 miles we made this turn on to a cart path which put us out on another road. This road took us across the border and into a WV where we made a tiny little loop. The ½ marathon finished here. My half split was about 1:24 and I felt terrible. While it was still cloudy the weather was warm and muggy. The sweat was not evaporating from my skin.
After this little side trip into WV we were back on the cart path. It may have actually been a road because a couple of cars came up and basically wanted me to move over so they could pass. What was I going to do? I moved over and let them pass. After I don't know how long on this cart path, it turned to gravel and then to a trail that looked like it had just been cleared. This was the part where it started thundering and raining. Maybe a mile and half on this trail we popped out on the back side of a golf course. There we proceeded to pick up this two foot wide and very well aged paved path. This part had a number up and down short steep hills. Maybe another 2 miles passed and I came to this swinging bridge. No, don't picture the swinging bridge at Grand Father Mountain. Think Ann Springs – that swinging bridge. Picture the one near the rest rooms that bounces with every step. Yep, a good old fashion swinging bridge. Let me tell you, it does wonders for your legs around 20 miles.
So with 20 miles in the bag, we were finally out on the open just rained on road with not a shade tree in sight. At this point, I was about as close to phoning this one in as I have ever been in a marathon. If I hadn't been in 3rd place, I probably would have. The sun was so hot that I actually got sun burned
Each mile became an agonizing challenge. This was made worse by me wearing my black CRC gear which seemed to not only absorb all of the sun's rays that hit it but also any rays of sunshine that came near it. It was hot.
Mile 21 passed then 22, then 23. I was told there was another big hill which I found at 23.5 mile. Technically, I was still running but it felt more like I was climbing stairs. This uphill tortured my quads, and then the ensuing downhill tortured the hamstrings.
I looked back 24.5 miles to see if anyone was near me. Honestly, even if there was I wasn't in any condition to hold them off. I was overheating badly and I knew it.
Finally, I turned on to 2nd Avenue and I knew I was almost home. I took one last look back to see if anyone was near. After running 26 miles, I don't want to get beat in the last 385 yards.
The clock was ticking to 3:06:48 as I crossed the finish line and slowed to a walk.
This nice older lady came up to me and asked if I was okay. I told her that I really needed to go set down. Vickie and Betty two very nice nurses started putting cold towels on me and offering me water and PowerAde.
In the next 2 hours I drank 4 bottles of water and nearly 2 20 oz bottles of PowerAde. I had wanted to change clothes so they pointed me to nearest restroom. And, they sent this guy lead me to it which was a good thing. I walked across the street and in the door. I felt dizzy and told him that I needed to set down.
Some more stuff transpired and I was back on the cot. The doctor was checking my blood pressure and pulse: 118 over 78 and 68 bpm. Also, he was playing 20 questions with me. Where are you from? How old are you? What is today? I was like "darn do I look that bad?". So of course, the county coroner walks up as well. Hey, look I am not dead yet.
The doctor tells them to load me with 2 IV bags. Short story, 20 minutes latter I was back on my feet and walking to my car. They had pumped a liter of IV solution directly into me. I will tell this. Once those two bags went in, it was like someone turned on the lights in a dimly light room. I might just start carrying my own IV bags and just bypass the stomach all together after my marathons.
Later I chatted with Bobby for a few minutes, ate some lunch, and then picked up my award. I strolled around to see the rest of the festival and finally decided to head home about 2:30 in the afternoon.
Running is about making memories and the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon is one that I will not forget anytime soon.
Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner